PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — After a fiscal year that proved challenging across global financial markets, the value of Brown University’s endowment stands at $3.2 billion after a -1.1 percent return between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
During that time period — Brown’s fiscal year 2016 — the endowment distributed $166 million to the University, representing $18,500 per student and 18 percent of Brown’s operating budget. Those funds support everything from financial aid for students to professorships, academic programs, research resources and other essential activities of a leading teaching and research institution.
“Brown’s spending policy for distributions from the endowment helps preserve the strength of the endowment while supporting financial sustainability, even during times of significant volatility such as the global financial market experienced this past year,” said Barbara Chernow, executive vice president for finance and administration. “The endowment supports Brown’s vital priorities in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship, as well as supporting generous financial support for students.”
Brown’s fiscal year return exceeded both the preliminary return of its benchmark portfolio (-2.2 percent) and Cambridge Associates’ preliminary mean and median returns for colleges and universities (-2.9 percent). Under the University’s current leadership, the endowment has grown from $2.6 billion to $3.2 billion since 2012, an 8 percent annualized return with more than $900 million in investment gains and more than $600 million contributed to the University’s budget.
The University is charged with both protecting and growing the endowment to support Brown’s educational mission in perpetuity. The endowment plays a significant role in ensuring a Brown education is accessible and affordable for a broad range of students and allowing the University to meet the full demonstrated need of aided students, Chernow said.
In fiscal year 2016, the endowment contributed $38 million to fund financial aid — 34 percent of the undergraduate financial aid budget, which has been the fastest growing area of Brown’s budget for more than 25 years. For the Class of 2019, 42 percent of students receive need-based scholarships with an average award of $47,360.
In recent years, the Brown University Investment Office has focused on increasing the quality of the endowment’s returns through improved manager selection, a flexible asset allocation model, and an emphasis on capital efficiency and risk management while maintaining liquidity to fund obligations.